Medicine shelves in some central Texas stores are empty during severe cold, flu season

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Customers and patients looking for cold and flu medicines in central Texas are driving store to store only to find empty medicine shelves.

Many have expressed their frustration at how hard it is to find basic medicine amid what health experts are calling a “tripledemic,” a severe flu and cold season mixed with increasing cases of RSV and COVID-19.

Dr. Tim Martindale, a family medicine physician in Waco, said that since COVID-19 is less powerful, catching other illnesses is easier.

“The result is, all those things that we haven’t been getting in the last few years are coming back at us, partially, because they’re available to us much more, but also, we’re not being as careful as we’ve been in the last few years,” said Martindale.

The doctor said people are doing more self-diagnosis recently instead of testing, which causes people to run to the shelves.

“So many people are sick and they’re just assuming, ‘I got what they got, I’ve been around them.’ Plenty of people say, ‘It’s probably coming here soon. Let’s go get some more because we’ll need it for our kids.’” So, the shelves are emptying fast, as so soon as they resupply, they’re emptying again,” said Martindale.

The doctor said manufacturers most likely did not expect demand for medicine would be so high.

He said a few things you can do is talk with your doctor, come to stores early when there’s a restock, or shop at smaller pharmacies.

“You can sometimes get it off of Amazon, or one of those types of places and get it through the mail. You can usually get it through the mail within two to three days. That way, you’ll have some supply,” said Martindale.

The doctor also recommended an old school route: home remedies.

“This is the time to call your mom or grandma and say, ‘What was it that I took at that time?’ This might be something like tea and lemon for a sore throat. Or it may be some lozenges you take to keep your throat coated,” said Martindale, who wants to remind folks basic medicine is a temporary fix.

“They’re just helping you feel better while you feel bad. So, I don’t think it’s prolonging things, it’s just making people more struggling with the experience of their illness,” said Martindale.

The doctor said this severe cold and flu season could last up to January through February.

He’s reminding folks to get flu and COVID shots while staying cautious of others.

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